The Tararua District Council has begun legal proceedings against owners of abandoned land in order to claw back hard-core rates arrears.

The orders were filed in the district court in February, with the process to advertise and sell the land by tender to begin at the end of this month, council's finance manager Cameron McKay has told councillors.

"Let's tackle properties we can make headway with and ratepayers in arrears who we can work with, rather than holding up the process," he said.

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"Our debtors team continues to work with people who are having difficulty and ensuring plans are in place for catch up.

"Other debts have been pushed to DMC [Debt Management Central] and one property has already been sold by the owner and we have received the rates arrears.

"Two rating units have already had judgment from the court and DMC is waiting on their lawyers to complete the rating sale process.

"We started the year with 1638 ratepayers in arrears and have reduced that to 260. If we exclude those on direct debt, then we have reduced the number to 253."

Council has collected $535,245 in rates arrears from July 1, 2017, to December 31, 2017.

This was rates owing at July 1 last year and of the remaining 260 rating units in arrears, 40 owe $847,168, made up mainly of abandoned land and the cost of legal processes, Mr McKay said.

"We have 35 rating units on which we've received no payments to date. The balance brought forward on these, for all but three, are under $600."

Councillor Shirley Hull said she was pleased with the progress.

"The work around rates debtors and abandoned land we are making on behalf of our ratepayers has made great progress," she said.